Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 6:40 am | Fog/Mist 56º


Education Advocates Rally in Santa Barbara in Support of Proposition 30

Statewide tax initiative would protect school districts in Santa Barbara County from millions of dollars in midyear budget cuts

Education advocates who gathered for a rally Friday in Santa Barbara argued that Proposition 30 is essential to stop the budget cuts to public education in California.

“It’s our opportunity to stop that red ink, stabilize and, as the economy improves, start the climb back,” Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone said.

He said schools are producing “incredible” results even while weathering budget cuts from the state and losing teachers and support staff, but the midyear cuts on the table if Proposition 30 doesn’t pass are daunting.

The county stands to lose $27.8 million in cuts to the 20 school districts, according to Cirone — the Santa Barbara Unified School District would lose $6.9 million, Goleta Union would lose $1.5 million, Santa Maria-Bonita would lose $6.3 million, Hope Elementary would lose $500,000, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District would lose $3.8 million, Orcutt Union would lose $1.8 million and Carpinteria Unified would lose $1 million.

“Education is the R&D for our future,” Cirone said.

Proposition 30 would increase income taxes for people earning more than $250,000 for seven years, and would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years. It would guarantee public safety realignment funding and bring in an additional $6 billion in state revenues annually through 2018-2019, according to SmartVoter.

It’s not expected to give any additional funding to education, but instead would prevent multimillion-dollar midyear cuts.

Some districts have shorter school days because of staff furloughs, which Santa Barbara school board member Susan Deacon called “really unthinkable.”

Santa Barbara Teachers Association president Layne Wheeler said class sizes are also the biggest they’ve ever been, which could have big impacts for the quality of education.

In the Lompoc Unified School District, enrollment has been dropping by 200 students per year for five years, which just adds to the layoffs, said Jerry White, the lead custodian for Fillmore Elementary School.

White, a representative for the California State Employees Association, said the district has lost five school days and could lose more.

Public colleges and universities face midyear cuts as well, and SBCC would cut more class offerings if Proposition 30 fails.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, who is running for a second term, said education advocates need to put their money where their mouths are.

“It’s truly a meaningless sentiment if you say you support these things unless you’re willing to put money into it,” he said.

Former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who is running for state Senate, said Proposition 30 needs to pass to keep funding education for a state that’s dropped to the bottom in per-pupil spending.

“We’ve squeezed almost every dime of efficiency and can no longer promise children the future our parents promised and delivered to us,” she said.

Higher education institutions are looking to Proposition 30 for funding as well. UC Santa Barbara’s tuition has increased 300 percent in recent years, and would go up another 20 percent if the measure fails, according to UCSB graduate student Filiberto Nolasco.

Nolasco, in his sixth year studying history, is a teacher’s assistant and deals directly with undergraduate students on a daily basis — often to tell them there’s no room in a class. He said students are taking five years instead of four to graduate, since they can’t get the classes they need, and tuition is ever-increasing.

Absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election will be mailed out by the County Elections Office in early October, and residents can still register to vote. Click here for the online application from the Secretary of State.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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